Friday, August 30, 2019

Refugee scholars come together to improve Equal Access to Higher Education

STAR intern and student activist Maryam writes about STAR’s recent Equal Access review day and her work with STAR this summer.
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My name is Maryam and I’m a recent graduate from the University of York. I was one of the recipients of the Equal Access Scholarship and I just finished my summer work experience with STAR on their Equal Access campaign. It felt amazing to be working on the campaign that enabled me to join university, so here’s a summary of what I’ve been up to!

During the last two months I’ve been working with STAR on some great campaign ideas, the main two being the Equal Access review day and shooting a video for the campaign! I’ll be focusing on the review day for now but watch this space for the video coming soon!

The Equal Access review day took place last week and being part of it after helping plan it was exciting! It started with an introduction by STAR and a timeline of how the campaign gradually expanded and evolved throughout the years since 2008. It was amazing to come together with other Equal Access scholars and STAR staff; Pam Saengathit, MD Mominul Hamid, Jamala Abdullahi, Chris Smart and Emily Crowley.

The review day essentially aimed to get ideas and feedback from either current or soon-to-be Equal Access scholars about the campaign, and giving us space to share our views on the positives of the scholarship and areas which could be improved. From as early as searching for universities, to the final process of experiencing the scholarship at the university, we discussed how universities could improve their practice and how STAR can help them achieve even better programmes.

As we discussed on the day, it’s important for universities to offer places for refugee students, but what’s equally as important is making their university a place where the student has enough support to fulfill their potential.

After that, we participated in an exercise that gave us the opportunity to share many interesting insights about what we found worked and what didn’t work as well when applying to university. This information was passed on to STAR to feed into the campaign next year and ultimately start sharing best practices between universities. As we discussed on the day, it’s important for universities to offer places for refugee students, but what’s equally as important is making their university a place where the student has enough support to fulfill their potential. The discussions we had started necessary conversations about how universities can best develop their support to maximise the great difference these scholarships can make! I cannot wait to see this feedback being implemented as a positive change soon.

For the last session of the day, IMIX came along to give us media training for the campaign, teaching us radio and TV interview techniques, discussing ways to optimise our story telling and how to tackle interview questions, as well as tips on using social media for activism and campaigning, which was a great end to a very productive day!

Other tasks I’ve been working on with STAR include making a webinar as a guide to applying for universities for students seeking asylum and refuge in the UK, which will be listing the steps of applying and sharing top tips on making a great scholarship application.

Overall, it was a wonderful experience working with STAR both remotely and in their office. I would encourage you all to follow updates on the Equal Access campaign by following STAR on their social media platforms, and joining STAR society at your universities. Let’s unite to continue improving access to higher education for students seeking protection in the UK.
Thank you for reading!

Posted by STAR team on 30/08/2019 at 01:04 PM